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Double Olympic gold medal winner Joanna Rowsell Shand, who announced her retirement from cycling back in March, looks set to enter a new phase in her life in which she proves to be a huge source of inspiration for other people whose hair loss has been caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.

Joanna Rowsell Shand Autobiography Alopecia Areata UniversalisAs her autobiography Full Circle hits the shelves this week, the British cycling legend who secured a place at the top of the podium in both the 2012 London Olympics and at a Rio four years later, is enjoying a packed media schedule where no subject appears to be off limits.

Victory laps without wig

During an interview on BBC Breakfast, for example, Joanna spoke openly about her Alopecia Areata, which turned from scalp-only patchy hair loss to the more severe form, Alopecia Universalis, which causes total baldness of the head and body, when she was ten years old. This is something she has not sought to hide, stepping onto the winner’s podium or performing victory laps without a wig on multiple occasions.

She said: “I lost all of my hair when I was 10. Younger than that I had small patches, but that didn’t really bother me because I could easily cover them up. It has grown back briefly a couple of times, but I have spent most of my life with no hair.”

She went on to say that during her cycling career, particularly back in 2012 when she found herself in the global spotlight for the first time, the media got really excited about her Alopecia Areata. “I was 23 years old and I found it quite difficult,” she says, “because people were telling me I was a hero and and I was brave and I was getting asked so many questions in interviews where people were hoping for me to come out with these brilliant one-liners, but I felt like a rabbit in the headlights.”

She continues: “I didn’t really know what to say, but definitely over the years I feel a lot more comfortable talking about it and have some good advice to give now.”

The interviewer suggests that it must have been strange having so much attention paid to her almost completely-bald head when it was just a part of who Joanna was.

“Exactly,” she replied. “So for me at the London Olympics I rode my bike round in circles very fast with my teammates, we went on the podium and got the medal – and I wasn’t consciously thinking, ‘This is a really brave thing to do.’ You’re there celebrating your win, but since then I’ve really understood the impact that it had and the difference that it has made to people which I am really proud of, and I really want to help raise awareness of Alopecia. I do a bit with Alopecia UK (which has recently merged with Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK) and I can do more now that I’m retired.” Continues below…

Hair loss helped her to succeed

The acclaimed sportswoman, who is 28, has previously spoken out about her autoimmune alopecia on a number occasions. She told the Daily Mail a few years ago that it was hard being a teenager with the condition, but explained that her hair loss played a large part in her will to succeed on the track.

Up to 600,000 people in the UK are thought to be affected by Alopecia Areata, a condition which is understood to have a number of suspected triggers that cause it. These include psychological long term chronic stress, shock and sudden extreme stress, physical trauma and several other things – although it is not always possible to pinpoint exactly what is behind it.

At Belgravia, treatment for Alopecia Areata is possible when clients present with the patchy, scalp-only mild version of the disease. When shedding is extreme, as Joanna’s is, then treatment is much less likely to be successful. This may soon change, however, if a number of proposed new treatments that are being trialled around the world prove their efficacy in tests and achieve subsequent regulatory clearance.

Belgravia clients with Alopecia Areata are typically offered formulations of high strength minoxidil from those available at the in-house pharmacy, which is applied topically to the scalp on the affected areas. This opens up potassium channels in the skin and can lead to regrowth. There are additional therapies that can help improve the prognosis for people with the condition, and Belgravia’s hair growth booster products are usually offered as part of a tailored treatment course.

For children and teens especially, people like Joanna – and fellow sports stars including rugby player Heather Fisher, basketball power forward Charlie Villanueva and Newcastle United footballer, Jonjo Shelvey – are a terrific source of inspiration. They show that Alopecia Areata does not have to put any kind of limit on a person’s capabilities. In fact, so open is Joanna about her condition, that her YouTube channel even features a number of wig reviews.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss ClinicThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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People whose hair loss has been caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata find that they also lose their eyebrows when they have the most extreme forms of the condition. Both Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis lead to complete hair loss on the head and face – and the latter condition results in baldness all over the body as well.

Whilst Alopecia Areata treatment can be effective on the mild, scalp-only, patchy version of the condition, options for people with severe alopecia are extremely limited – something that scientists around the world are currently in the throes of trying to address via a range of new products they are hoping to bring to market.

To complement these – some of which may be cleared for general use within a couple of years – a new lotion aimed at restoring the eyebrows in cases where they have been lost to Alopecia Totalis/Universalis is currently being clinically trialled. While missing eyebrows may seem a relatively trivial cosmetic problem when compared to a completely bald scalp, it remains a vexing part of extreme alopecia for many – to the extent that some even turn to eyebrow wigs as a solution.

The difference eyebrows can make alopecia universalis totalis autoimmune areata

This mock up shows the difference having no eyebrows can make to a person’s appearance

Ointment used in similar trial

LEO Pharma, a company headquartered in Copenhagen, has announced a trial into the use of a topical ointment of theirs known as LEO 124249 on the eyebrows of people with severe alopecia. This is the same drug that the company has been trialling on people with Alopecia Areata, though the company appears to be keeping its cards close to its chest in terms of what exactly its solution actually is. It is possible that the ointment is related to the well-known and clinically-proven hair loss drug minoxidil, which, like LEO 124249, is applied topically twice per day.

But it could equally be related to JAK inhibitors, a suite of drugs which have shown promise at treating extreme Alopecia Areata in a number of tests around the world. Indeed, LEO Pharma is a leading light in the field of psoriasis, where JAK inhibitors are also being hailed as a potential treatment option. Of course, there is also the possibility that LEO’s ointment is something completely different.

Currently recruiting participants in Denmark, the company’s latest trial will study the efficacy of a twice-daily application of its solution for 12 weeks on people with eyebrow Alopecia Areata. Secondary outcome measures include the volunteers’ tolerability of the ointment, and also an assessment of whether any regrowth in the eyebrow area is considered normal and acceptable from a cosmetic point of view.

Approximately 24 people are estimated to be involved in the study, which is scheduled for completion in May 2018, and some of the participants will use a placebo so that results can be compared.

Interestingly, on the list of exclusion criteria for the trial is the use of JAK inhibitor drugs ruxolitinib and tofacitinib. This is presumably so that the researchers can ascertain for certain that any regrowth that arises during the trial cannot be attribued to something else.

Infuriating for those affected

When people visit Belgravia with Alopecia Areata, the prognosis is often quite good when the level of shedding is not too pronounced. In mild cases, the hair should normally regrow naturally within up to 12 months, though if or when this hair growth will resume is unknown – something which can be extremely infuriating for those affected. In these cases – when the rounded bald patches affect the scalp only – professional treatment can often be effective.

The Alopecia Areata treatment provided via Belgravia’s in-clinic specialists and pharmacies involves recommended formulations of high strength minoxidil being applied directly to the affected areas to help encourage regrowth by stimulating localised bloodflow. This topical drug is usually paired with further appropriate hair growth boosters tailored to the individual’s requirements and medical suitability.

In cases of extreme autoimmune alopecia, treatment options are not widely felt to be effective – meaning that most people with Alopecia Totalis or Universalis either conceal their baldness with headgear and wigs, or try and find a way to face the world as they are. If trials into JAK inhibitors continue at their current pace, however, then new hope could be a few years away – more trial successes and regulatory clearance permitting.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Treatment Before and After Results - New Success Story

alert alopecia areata the belgravia centre 08 11 2017A new entry has just been added to Belgravia’s Alopecia Areata Treatment Success Stories gallery.

Miss K, pictured, is pleased to have seen dense regrowth since she started treating her patchy hair loss at Belgravia.

Read her Belgravia Centre review and see her regrowth results close up, or find out more about treating patchy hair loss from Alopecia Areata by clicking the relevant button below…

(Results may vary and are not guaranteed)

 

VIEW SUCCESS STORY

TreatmenT information 

 


The Belgravia Centre Hair Loss ClinicThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


After decades of apparent silence, the race to develop safe and effective hair loss treatment options for people affected by severe autoimmune alopecia is really hotting up.

There has been an exciting stream of significant developments regarding the potential treatment of forms of alopecia areata using janus kinase inhibition from top researchers at Columbia University in the States. Now, fellow US-based Concert Pharmaceuticals Inc has announced its latest clinical trial into an ‘analogue’ form of the JAK inhibitor ruxolitinib.

Diagram Belgravia Centre Different Types of Alopecia Areata autoimmune hair lossTreating autoimmune alopecia

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder which causes a malfunction of the hair growth cycle. It can affect men, women and children and tends to present suddenly. Though the precise reason the body suspends normal hair production is unknown, a number of triggers have been identified. These include sudden shock, trauma, allergies and a genetic element is also suspected.

There are various degrees to which alopecia can present and each is categorised into a different phenotype. The most moderate of these is Alopecia Areata – confusingly, the same term which is given to the group of autoimmune hair loss conditions – and it causes sudden, patchy bald spots to the scalp only. More drastic is Alopecia Totalis, which causes baldness of the head, meaning no hair on the scalp or facial hair, including a lack of eyelashes and eyebrows. Most extreme is Alopecia Universalis which causes all the hair from head to toe to be shed. There are also further variations including one which can affect solely beard hair, and another which presents as a bald ring around the hairline.

Though professional Alopecia Areata treatment can be extremely successful in cases where the bald areas are confined solely to the scalp, the harsher phenotypes currently have no truly significant treatment options.

For the past few years, there has looked to be light appearing at the end of the tunnel for those who have never had realistic hair regrowth choices before. These have almost exclusively focused on the use of janus kinase inhibitor drugs (JAK inhibitors) to regrow hair in confirmed, and often long-term cases of both Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.

One of the first JAK inhibitor drugs to be investigated as a potential severe alopecia areata treatment was something called ruxolitinib. Available under the brand name Jakafi, this drug is currently only available to be used in the treatment of patients with certain blood disorders. It is, however, being developed as an option for those with autoimmune hair loss and the latest information confirmed that a phase 2a clinical trial is exploring a version of ruxolitinib known as CTP-543.

Investigating CTP-543 for hair regrowth

Concert Pharmaceuticals announced via a press release that enrollment for the first part of its Phase 2a trial is now complete. This part of the study will involve testing CTP-543 via sequential dosing in order to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the drug in relation to treating moderate to severe forms of alopecia areata.

Ruxolitinib (Brand Name: Jakafi)

The new drug being tested is based on Ruxolitinib

CTP-543 is a ‘deuterium-modified analog’ of ruxolitinib; an ‘analog’ drug – or ‘analogue’ to those of us in the UK – is one which closely resembles another in structure. In this instance, Concert used its deuterium chemistry technology to modify its Jakafi ruxolitinib drug to produce CTP-543.

The trial involves 90 adults with various severities of alopecia, from scalp-only alopecia areata through to alopecia universalis and is broken down into two parts.

Firstly, the group will each be randomly assigned a dose of either 4 mg of CTP-543 or a placebo, which they will take twice a day for 24 weeks. The results will be analysed for safety issues by an independent data monitoring company at the end of this period. They will then make recommendations for the second part of the trial based on their findings.

It is estimated that this will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2018, after which the second part of the trial will commence. This involves volunteers being randomly assigned a twice-daily drug of either 4mg of CTP-543 or 8mg of CTP-543, to be taken as instructed for a 24 week period.

“The primary outcome measure will utilize the severity of alopecia tool (SALT) after 24 weeks of dosing. Patient-reported outcome measures will be assessed as secondary endpoints. If appropriate, the protocol may be amended to explore higher doses of CTP-543…” states the Concert-released press information. Adding, “CTP-543 has been well-tolerated in clinical evaluation to date and has demonstrated a non-clinical safety profile consistent with therapeutic JAK inhibition.”

Assuming everything goes to plan, the results from the latter part of this clinical trial should be released in late 2018 or early 2019.

Although the MHRA and FDA have not approved any drugs for the treatment of alopecia areata, Belgravia has found that by using a custom plan featuring recommended formulations of high strength minoxidil, – people with the scalp-only moderate form of alopecia areata can see significant results. Minoxidil is the only clinically-proven and MHRA and FDA approved unisex hair loss treatment for androgenetic alopecia (female and male pattern baldness). However, this drug is only suitable for those over 16 years of age and – as before – only has the potential to be effective in cases of patchy hair loss on the scalp.

Whilst there are none available yet, the possibility of there potentially being a fully-authorised, safe and effective alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis treatment option available within the next few years is hugely exciting, and one we are keeping a close eye on.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinic Reception - New StreetThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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The merger between key hair loss charities Alopecia UK and Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK (AAR-UK) was finally confirmed on 1st November 2017.

With these additional resources now in place, the charity is moving forward with its key activities. These range from promoting awareness of and research into the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, to fundraising and supporting those affected.

To mark the increased-strength Alopecia UK, the charity unveiled its new logo ahead of a new website, set to go live in 2018.
Alopecia UK hair loss charity alopecia areata new logo merged 2017

Logo inspired by dandelion

As previously reported, the merger of Alopecia UK with AAR-UK had been awaiting approval from the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). Now that this has been granted, the integrated charity is beginning  the process of a full rebrand, which it states will “include the strong legacy from both organisations”.

The first step was to reveal the new Alopecia UK logo, which can be seen here. Described by the charity as “a lengthy process”, the logo was designed by Rob Newman of Toasted Designs in collaboration with both Alopecia UK and AAR-UK.

Whilst it is sufficiently abstract to allow for individual interpretation – already having been compared to a firework, starburst and a flower – the logo was actually inspired by a dandelion.

“The dandelion, like alopecia, has associations with loss,” the charity explains. “While we did want to incorporate this element we also wanted a logo that would feel very positive, with a shape that would feel distinctive and stand out from the crowd (also like alopecia). There is a nod towards hair loss with some florets missing and a space in the middle which could be seen as a patch of alopecia. We felt that visually the shape is in keeping with alopecia as a whole and would hopefully resonate with the alopecia community.”

Alopecia UK has traditionally favoured a bold shade of blue as its signature colour, whilst AAR-UK appropriated a vivid fuchsia pink. As such, elements of both were incorporated into the final design as the design team felt the “single floret of pink made it ‘pop’ against the blue”. As the rebrand continues, both colours will be used across the charity’s marketing materials and merchandise.

Diagram Belgravia Centre Different Types of Alopecia Areata autoimmune hair lossAutoimmune alopecia research committee

This leading hair loss charity has formed a new Trustee board chaired by Simon Ray and comprising all existing Trustees from both AAR-UK and AUK. Furthermore, it has established a research committee, chaired by Karen Green, formerly of AAR-UK. This committee will further the work which AAR-UK started back in 2013; it was involved in establishing the first UK Alopecia Areata Bio-Bank, and was heavily committed to discovering more about the various phenotypes of autoimmune alopecia, in order to hopefully lead to an eventual cure or treatment options for the most severe forms – Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.

Although the scalp-only form, which causes rounded bald spots and patchy hair loss, can often be successfully overcome either naturally or through the use of a specialist Alopecia Areata Treatment course, this is only appropriate for medically-appropriate over 16s.

There are currently few alopecia treatment options for children or for anyone experiencing baldness caused by the more extreme alopecias, though this is a particularly exciting time for hair loss research in this area. Clinical trials being carried out by Columbia University in the USA have been developing a suite of drugs known as JAK inhibitors with the potential to treat even Alopecia Universalis. These continue to gain momentum and, should the trial results continue to show safe and effective results, medical board approval and release could happen as early as 2020.

Mr. Ray said of the charity’s future: “We are so excited to see that this merger has been successfully completed and we really look forward to working with all our new colleagues.”


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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These are undoubtedly interesting times for anybody whose hair loss has been caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata and, in particular, its more severe related conditions; barely a week passes by without another announcement that scientists are nudging ever-nearer to new treatment options which may one day help to regrow hair on even completely bald scalps.

Alopecia Areata treatment can be effective when it is the mild, scalp-only version – typically seen as rounded, patchy hair loss. But when people are diagnosed with Alopecia Totalis, all of the hair on their head will be lost. More alarming still, a diagnosis of Alopecia Universalis will result in all body hair shedding, too. Both of these conditions are currently virtually untreatable.

Exploring new alopecia treatments

There are several companies around the world who have expressed a commitment to exploring new treatments for extreme alopecia-related hair loss, and one of the most determined appears to be Pennsylvania-based Aclaris Therapeutics. Its work is especially credible because the company has such strong links with Columbia University in New York, where Dr Angela Christiano – a global leader in pioneering alopecia treatments – has been working tirelessly with her team to try and find the proverbial ‘miracle cure’.

The principal area of interest for Aclaris and Christiano is in the application of janus kinase inhibitor drugs, known as JAK-inhibitors, as potential treatments for extreme autoimmune-related shedding. While these drugs were initially developed to treat such afflictions as rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers, they have since shown themselves to be effective in certain cases at regrowing hair on scalps that have been bald, in some instances, for many years.

Aclaris’ key drug is known as ATI-50001, and up until recently it was being trialled in pill form to be taken orally. Back in January, the company announced a trial to study the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of the drug to evaluate its safety. While the results of that trial have not yet been made public (it is likely still ongoing), Aclaris is forging ahead with a new study which will look at the safety and pharmacokinetics of a drug they have named ATI-50002 on subjects with Alopecia Universalis and Alopecia Totalis.

ATI-50002 differs from ATI-50001 in that it is applied topically, meaning it is rubbed into the scalp in liquid or foam form. According to the trial announcement on the clinicaltrials.gov website, 12 people will be taking part, some of whom will be given a placebo. The solution will be applied to the scalp twice daily for 28 days in adult subjects only, and data is scheduled to be ready for analysis in March 2018.

Whether the code names ATI-50001 and 50002 refer to any of the suite of JAK inhibitor drugs already patented in the USA and Japan by The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, who have licensed them exclusively to Aclaris Therapeutics, remains to be seen.

Age restrictions currently unconfirmed

There is some hope that new developments in treatment options for extreme alopecia may, if cleared by the relevant governments’ medical regulatory authorities, be offered in some form to children. At present, hair loss treatment options for children under 16 years of age with any form of autoimmune alopecia are extremely limited.

From 16 years of age upwards, people with the scalp-only form of Alopecia Areata can – as previously stated – be treated. This will not prevent the disorder from recurring, which happens in some people, but treatment can be used on an ‘as needed’ basis and does not need to be on-going in order to retain any hair that is restored.

At Belgravia, tailored alopecia areata treatment courses typically involve the use of high-strength minoxidil from the recommended formulations available at the clinics’ in-house pharmacies. The images found, alongside client’s reviews, in Belgravia’s dedicated Alopecia Areata Treatment Success Stories gallery illustrate just how effective this approach can be.


The Belgravia CentreThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


Related Stories


Teams at Columbia University in America have been working hard to develop what may be the first effective treatments for severe forms of autoimmune hair loss, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.

Now, in another step towards their goal of having the first Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor hair loss treatments ready to release by 2021, the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York have been awarded more new patents in America and Japan.

Both are for the JAK inihibitor tofacitinib and were awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on 24th October 2017 and the Japanese Patent Office on 22nd September 2017.

Tofacitinib awarded alopecia treatment patent

JAK Inhibitor hair loss treatment patents Columbia University NYC Aclaris TherapeuticsThis latest US patent, which was allowed with 66 claims, covers administering tofacitinib topically or as the ‘sole active ingredient’ in order to treat hair loss or induce hair growth. It specifically states that it may be used in relation to Alopecia Areata – an umbrella term for autoimmune alopecia – and Androgenetic Alopecia, which is more commonly known as Male Pattern Baldness in men, and Female Pattern Hair Loss in women.

The fact that the drug is applied directly to the scalp rather than being taken orally may help to lower its previously concerning side effect profile.

As with their previously granted US patents in relation to potential hair loss treatments, the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York have also exclusively licensed this tofacitinib patent to biopharmaceutical company Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc.

Japanese Letters Patent No. 6212107, which has 25 claims, covers ‘topical compositions of tofacitinib, as well as pharmaceutical compositions of tofacitinib as the sole therapeutic active agent, for treating hair loss disorders and for inducing hair growth,’ according to a press release issued by Aclaris. In June 2016 a previous patent, Japanese Letters Patent No. 5948337, was issued covering the use of pharmaceutical compositions of other JAK inhibitors, namely ruxolitinib or baricitinib, also for the treatment of genetic hair loss and alopecia areata.

It is unclear when the new American patent expires, though the Japanese patents expire in November 2031 (5948337) and March 2033 (6212107).

‘Through exclusive licenses, Aclaris has built an extensive intellectual property estate consisting of selective JAK 1/3 compounds, highly selective JAK 3 compounds, and methods of using JAK inhibitors to treat AA, AGA, and various other hair loss disorders,’ states the dermatologist-led company’s press release.

Aclaris’ JAK inhibitor portfolio in relation to genetic and autoimmune hair loss now includes patents covering the drugs baricitinib, tofacitinib, decernotinib and ruxolitinib.

JAK inhibitors for hair loss not yet available

Whilst the stream of patent awards indicate that everything is moving along nicely in relation to the development of JAK inhibitors as potential treatments for alopecia, they are not yet available for use. In order for the drugs to be made available for prescription they will need to obtain the necessary approvals from relevant medical regulatory boards. These include the FDA and the MHRA in the USA and the UK, respectively.

Dr Angela Christiano - Hair Loss Research Professor at Columbia UniversityPatents simply indicate who owns the rights to a formulation, product or brand name, usually for a specific period of time. Whilst they are important here to those who worked tirelessly to develop the medication in order to prevent competitors – such as Pfizer who are also conducting research and development in this area – from reproducing and selling the drugs, this does not indicate that the treatments themselves are necessarily near approval.

To meet regulators’ strict drug licensing criteria, JAK inhibitors – whether topical or oral – will need to pass stringent tests to demonstrate their safety, efficacy and tolerability. This is a critical process which essentially takes as long as it takes to get it right and cannot be accelerated for obvious reasons.

This process can take many years; clinical trials into JAK inhibitors in relation to alopecia areata are understood to have started in or before 2011 as this is when the first patent – listing Dr. Angela Christiano (pictured) and Dr. Raphael Clynes as the inventors – was filed in America. That means they have been in development for at least 6 years already and it is likely to be a further 4 years – or more – before the drugs become widely available, assuming they meet all regulatory and safety requirements.

This realistic insight is not designed to put a damper on what has been achieved to date, however. Whilst there are already effective and clinically-proven hair loss treatments licensed by the MHRA and FDA for Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss, those with severe alopecia areata have limited options. Should JAK inhibitors prove to be reliable and safe treatments that can regrow hair in people with Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis – autoimmune disorders which cause baldness of the entire head or from the whole body – it could prove a game-changer.

Treatments for Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis tend to revolve around steroid creams and scalp injections at present, though these have a low success rate. Though the milder, scalp-only form – Alopecia Areata – can often be treated in adults (at Belgravia this is done through the use of personalised programmes featuring high strength minoxidil), these are ineffective in the more extreme phenotypes and cannot be used on hair loss in areas other than the scalp.


Circ - Minoxidil iconThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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In terms of ‘banter’, hair loss tends to be one of the go-to subjects – and from a surprisingly young age.

A primary school teacher in Los Angeles recently shared a ‘Burn Book’ she discovered some of her pupils had put together. It included examples of how to ‘roast’. The very first extract listed under Rule 1 – ‘Do not roast someone if you are ugly’ – was, ‘Example: ‘”Boy yo hairline look like a rainbow” – That’s a no no if you don’t have a hairline’. Although the children’s ages are not provided, they would be between 5 and 10 years old.

Whilst the Burn Book also includes the advice, “…don’t get mad and want to fight. Roasting is just a fun game but also can be taken too far”, it is easy to see how this type of unkind behaviour can become normalised – and even develop further. Something which Premiership footballer Jonjo Shelvey is currently dealing with on a much larger scale.

Jonjo Shelvey footballerOpposition fans’ hair loss taunts

Shelvey was born with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata. This caused patchy hair loss on his scalp when he was a child, and developed into complete baldness. It is unclear whether the Essex boy, who went on to lose his eyelashes and eyebrows too, has Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis. Totalis causes total hair loss from the head, including facial hair, whilst Universalis leads to complete baldness with no hair on the head or body.

Most footballers are, at some point, the subject of chants from opposition fans. Since appearing in an advert for some anti-dandruff shampoo, England and West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart was on the receiving end of chants such as “‘Flaky, give us a wave, flaky flaky give us a wave” and “He’s got a dry scalp, he’s got a dry sca-alp, Joe Hart – he’s got a dry scalp”. But not all chants are as good humoured.

The FA found Shelvey guilty of making racist comments to Wolves players in December 2016 – a charge the midfielder still disputes. Since then the abuse he has been receiving – specifically targeting his autoimmune hair loss – is said to have worsened significantly.

‘If I had said it then I would have deserved every punishment I got, but I didn’t say it,’ Shelvey told the Daily Mail in an interview about the insults being levelled at him.

Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot recently spoke out about the abuse his teammate receives from opposition fans, which is centred on his baldness.

‘Jonjo gets abuse from all the away fans every time because of a condition he’s got. Everybody laughs about it because he’s Jonjo and he’s a white lad or bald skinhead. But he’s not, he’s got alopecia and it’s a condition,’ he told local Newcastle newspaper, The Chronicle.

‘And it does get to him (abuse). I’m not saying it gets to him badly. But what you have to realise is that he’s still a young man and he handles the pressure really well… He gets abuse everywhere he goes.’

Shelvey, who decided to start psychological counselling for anger management earlier this year, told the Daily Mail, ‘It was unusual to see a bald nine-year-old so I would play football in hats. But over time I realised I had to get over it. I realised that you are what you are and if I have alopecia then so what? Deal with it. That was the attitude I took.’

‘With the upbringing I have, my dad and grandad would just say: “F**k it. Who cares what people think about you?”… I think that’s where I have got that streak from. That’s what I have become.’

‘I am not tough in terms of fighting and stuff but I think I am quite mentally strong and it all goes back to that.’

Charlie Villanueva Basketball Player Sportsman Bald Alopecia Areata UniversalisNot alone in receiving baldness abuse

Jonjo Shelvey is not the only high profile alopecian to experience name-calling taunts centred around his hairloss.

American basketball star, Charlie Villanueva is an ambassador for Alopecia Areata, working closely with hair loss charities in the US to help children in particular come to terms with going bald so unexpectedly.

Whilst Alopecia Areata treatment can be effective in people aged 16 and over who have the scalp-only phenotype, children with this condition and both adults and children with Totalis or Universalis currently have extremely limited and ineffective treatment options. This lack of hope can make hair loss especially difficult for children to deal with given the lack of widespread alopecia awareness, coupled with typical naïve playground behaviours.

The inspirational New Yorker, who is making a movie about his life, recounted his story of growing up without any hair in an open letter to his childhood bullies. He also spoke out against a Boston Celtics player who hurled on-court abuse, allegedly calling him a ‘cancer patient. Being mislabelled as having cancer is something many people with autoimmune baldness have said they identify with.

The extreme types of autoimmune alopecia both sportsmen have is not currently treatable. However, research into potentially promising treatments for Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis is making rapid progress. The first medications – one topical and one oral -are thought to be close to release, assuming all necessary safety and efficacy requirements are met and the drugs receive the necessary MHRA and FDA approvals. These drugs are still in the clinical testing phase and are not yet available [October 2017] but updates are recorded as soon as they become available on Belgravia’s hair loss blog.

In the meantime, the visibility of sporting heroes, actors and other notable public figures with alopecia, especially those who work with the community to actively promote alopecia awareness, is incredibly important. This, along with the work of supportive charities such as Alopecia UK, the Little Princess Trust and Hero by LPT in the United Kingdom and the NAAF in the USA, helps those affected to feel like they are not alone and that not having any hair should not stop them from chasing their goals.


Belgravia CentreThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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Popular British comedy actor Matt Lucas has discussed his extreme hair loss in a pivotal chapter of his new autobiography.

The Little Britain star’s forthcoming memoir is likely to be a must-read for anybody with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata or any of its related conditions. These include Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis, and it is the latter condition which has affected Lucas from a very young age.

In an extract from his book which is printed in the Guardian, the actor talks about how his early years were blighted by eczema, asthma and hay fever. Though a funny and inquisitive boy, he felt forever side-lined when it came to anything that required physical activity.

Matt Lucas Little MeKnocked down by car

As he has previously discussed, it was a holiday to Portugal with his parents and his brother that would ultimately come to shape his childhood. Writing in the Guardian he says: “One day (in Portugal), while we were walking along the street, I got separated from my family. Eventually, I spotted them, on the other side, waving anxiously at me. I stepped off the curb, into the road, and was knocked down by a car. At school I recounted the story to my friends and teachers. I enjoyed the drama of it. My father, coming to my rescue. Me, the survivor.”

However, two years later in 1980 when Lucas was six, his hair started to fall out. During the summer holidays, he lost it all and while initially he wasn’t that concerned about the change – largely because he had never much liked his hairstyle anyway – he quickly came to find that his total baldness defined him.

“Suddenly, everything and anything else that I was was eclipsed by the fact that I was the little boy in town with absolutely no hair,” writes Lucas. This was a sensation that would linger for the remainder of his youth.

Doctors, he says, came to the conclusion that his dramatic hair fall was a delayed response to the shock of being knocked down in Portugal. They assured the youngster that his hair was likely to grow back soon – and indeed it did, albeit much more wispily than before. And then it fell out again.

Lucas’ account of his childhood is a heart-breaking reminder of how hard it must be for any youngster who has to go through childhood feeling different to everyone else. His baldness, he says, was a source of amusement, sympathy and revulsion for everyone. Older children even told him that he had leukaemia and that he would die. There were frequent cries of “Baldy!” or “Slaphead!”.

“I was never allowed to forget for one moment that I was bald,” he says. “If I went swimming or to the cinema or went to the shop or simply walked down the street, adults and children stared at me.”

Desperately seeking medical help

In an attempt to try and get his hair to grow back Lucas reveals that his family would travel to central London with him to meet specialists on a regular basis. Nothing worked – though it seems like the family were happy to try everything, including acupuncture, of which Lucas recalls: “I don’t know anybody who enjoys having needles stuck into them and I was quite relieved when we stopped going.”

Next came the wig incident: obviously keen for their son to “blend in” at high school, his concerned parents suggested that a wig might help. The actor, however, remembers this as a disastrous experiment which was quickly ditched. Not only did a bigger boy yank it off in the playground the first day he wore it, but Lucas quickly found the wig hot and uncomfortable to wear. He also questions the wisdom of trying to hide the person he had come to accept; by the time he was ready for high school he had figured out jokey responses and/or cutting retorts depending on his mood. However, he does admit that in his heart he still wanted to be just like everybody else.

Duncan Goodhew Matt Lucas

Matt Lucas (right) meets his childhood hero, former Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew (left) on the BBC’s The One Show

The actor writes that many years later – well into adulthood – he was talking to a doctor about his hairloss and was told that the car accident might not have been the cause of his Alopecia Universalis. The doctor asked Lucas if he had asthma, eczema, hay fever or allergies – to which the comedian replied that he had all of them.

The doctor suggested that Lucas actually had an overactive immune system which was constantly looking for things to battle. He put forward the theory that this was why his body had rejected his hair.

Earlier this month, Lucas appeared on The One Show where his hair loss was openly discussed and the actor talked about how, as a boy, he would often mention Duncan Goodhew when people asked him why he had lost his hair. “People used to say (to Goodhew): ‘Why did your hair fall out?’ And he used to say, ‘I fell out of a tree,’” Lucas said. The actor then added that he would say: “You know Duncan Goodhew fell out of a tree? Well it was my head he landed on. The shock made my hair fall out.”

Presenter Alex Jones then hit Lucas with a surprise by calling in the legendary British swimmer from backstage. It was the first time that the two men had ever met and it was unquestionably an emotional moment for Lucas. “You meant so much for me growing up and you gave me such courage, so thank you very much,” he said, visibly moved.

Alopecia Areata can be treated in some cases

Unfortunately, science hasn’t moved on much in the field of Alopecia Universalis treatment since Lucas was a boy. Unlike Alopecia Areata treatment, which is commonly overseen by the hair loss experts at Belgravia when people present with the scalp-only patchy version, treatment options for the more extreme forms of autoimmune alopecia remain largely unsatisfactory.

However, significant breakthroughs in the US in particular have opened an important crack in the door in terms of potential future treatment options. The buzzword in the industry is “JAK inhibitors” – a collection of existing drugs designed to treat a multitude of conditions that are showing great promise as potential treatments for Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis, too. If long-term safety and efficacy can be proven and, in turn, medical clearance granted, then future generations of young Matt Lucases may one day be spared the rigours of being “the bald child” at school.


Circ - The Belgravia Centre Treatment for Hair LossThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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Losing your hair to the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata is often difficult – especially when you’re a child and every school day is another reminder of your hair loss and how different you look.

For several years now, Mattel, the makers of Barbie, have been making a “bald and beautiful” version of their popular doll named Ella – and as one heart-warming Facebook video shared by America’s National Areata Foundation (NAAF) showed recently, it continues to put a smile on people’s faces.

Martina’s delight

The video, posted to NAAF’s Facebook page, features a young girl with Alopecia Areata named Martina, from Italy. Her mother sent in the video, which shows Martina carefully unboxing her Ella and – after a few moments of slight bewilderment – her delight at finding that the doll’s wig comes off.

Martina’s hair loss is a classic example of Alopecia Areata, with patches dotted around her scalp, and like many people with the condition, she has cut her hair very short to take the emphasis away from the bald spots. Her bald Ella doll is like a miniature version of herself. Continues below…

The doll was originally produced after a social media campaign that generated more than 100,000 likes on Facebook, and today the dolls are given out at children’s hospitals in the US, as well as by the NAAF – one of only three organisations through whom the unique toys are distributed. Each doll comes with a set of accessories, such as a headband and a wig.

The brilliant thing about Ella is that she helps to normalise Alopecia Areata for children, and in a very simple way helps them to see that they are not alone during what is always a very trying time. Worry, in fact, often forms a significant part of a child’s Alopecia Areata journey, as doctors are unable to say whether it will clear itself up, spread or return.

Also, whilst Alopecia Areata treatment for those aged 16 and over is available, and success rates can be extremely encouraging, options for children are more limited. For parents of a child with the condition it can be an extremely stressful time.

Stress is actually one of several suspected triggers for this quite widespread autoimmune disorder (around three per cent of people will be affected in their lifetime); shock and sudden extreme stress, as well as physical trauma are among the factors that are often identified as the likely reason why the body is attacking itself, leading to hair falling out.

Book stars girl with Alopecia Areata

Anything that parents can use to help their little ones get through Alopecia Areata is to be welcomed, and a new book from award-winning author J.M. Forster is no exception. Her new book, Bad Hair Days, was launched to mark the start of Alopecia Awareness Month in September 2017.

It is based around a girl called Mallow who has patchy hairloss from Alopecia Areata, and starts wearing a wig to try and conceal it. The author told her local news website Gloucestershire Live: “I’m excited to celebrate the release of Bad Hair Days in Alopecia Awareness month. Hair loss can be an embarrassing and distressing condition for young people, but if we were more accepting of people’s differences, it doesn’t need to be that way.”


The Belgravia CentreThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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